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Columbia University Life:

Refreshing Clarity


Brand Development

Brand Concept and Identity

Brand Style Guide


Columbia University is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, and as such, its brand image is extremely important. The university has a set of brand guidelines that are designed to ensure that all communications and marketing materials related to the university are consistent and in line with its values and identity.Working under those guidelines, University Life is a division of Student Affairs responsible for supporting all undergraduates and graduate students across three NYC campuses and was having trouble self-identifying to students.


In short, University Life’s problem was one of awareness and clarity. Students are unclear about what University Life does and what benefits it provides for students. Graduates think it’s for undergrads. Undergrads don’t understand that it is not part of their school but the overall University. Students from the Manhattanville and the medical center campuses don’t realize that University Life also serves their needs. Some familiar events are well attended, but a certain percentage of students still don’t think it is a University Life event. 

A lack of consistent and engaging visual communication has been identified as one source of the poor identification of the group. And the delivery and understanding of University Life core pillars go largely unknown.


Knowing that traditional communications, particularly from storied institutions, visually represented themselves through their buildings, Vice President of Student Affairs, Joseph Defraine Greenwell, very clearly directed us to center the communications around students.


Working under the larger University master brand guidelines, we moved to develop a visual approach not necessarily centered around a logo, but an approach that used students in the ubiquitous college uniform, the t-shirt. We would then use the t-shirts as the substrate for communicating University Life messaging and values.

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